Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Theatrical Belly Dance Review, Part Two

The second half of my review of this summer's Theatrical Bellydance Conference has been published in Gilded Serpent. This event pushed the boundaries of experiment and artistry in our field. Please read, please comment here or on the site. Part 2 of 2: The Performances
The NY Theatrical Belly Dance Conference 2010A
Five Day Exploration of Dance Styles, Intention, and Content . My review of the panel discussions appeared earlier in the magazine: Report from the Theatrical Belly Dance Conference Part 1: The Panel Discussions. .
(Photo credits: Jeniviva and Mystical Hips by Brian Lin; Kaeshi Chai and Bellyqueen Dance Theater by Sal Romano; and Dunya and the Core Alembic by Sal Romano)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thalia, Kaeshi, Sisters of Bast at Je'Bon on Oct. 13

Please join me, Kaeshi, the Sisters of Bast (dance students from NYU), and soloists Ninette and Allison at Je'Bon this coming Wednesday. Djinn, the band, always makes this event a fun one and the food is good too.

Wednesday, Oct. 13
7:30-10:30 p.m.
D'Jam Under Je'Bon
Je'Bon Noodle Shop
15 St. Mark's Place
between Astor and 2nd Ave.
New York, NY
Cover $10/ $5 min. per person

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

AUC Biography of Edward Lane

A new biography of the famed 19th century Orientalist, Edward William Lane (1801-1876), who translated Arabian Nights in addition to Manners and Customes of the Moden Egyptians was just released by AUC press. I have so many books to read, but this by Jason Thompson indeed seems necessary. A thoughtful review in Al-Ahram, "Pioneering Egyptologist and Orientalist," puts Lane in context as one of the prime European Orientalists identified Edward Said. Lane's fascination with the "Orient" manifests as such: he dresses, marries, speaks, and studies the culture with inensity. Is that the quandry, the more we study and try to perfect our craft, the more "expert" we become, the more we realize it is a dream? Or, as the article suggests, do we become seduced by our own research?

Suggested Belly Dance Reading: Fall 2010

What follows is only a glimpse at a growing body of work on belly dance. Each has its particular focus, such as anthropological/cultural, historical, or technical. In addition to the following recommendations, I suggest perusing the always changing material on: Gilded Serpent: Journal of Record for Middle Eastern Music, Dance, and Belly Dance. Thoughtfully edited by Lynette Harris and crew, Gilded Serpent's many offerings include articles exploring all topics in belly dance, international event listings and teachers, and reviews on shows and media.

Anthropological and Cultural Focus:
Currently, one of my favorite books is a compilation of essays:
Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism and Harem Fantasy, edited by academic writers and dancers, Barbara Sellers-Young and Anthony Shay. Erudite and probing, these essays take belly dance seriously while exploring the ramifications of cultural appropriation and history.

Also, check out Dancing Fear and Desire: Race, Sexuality, and Imperial Politics in Middle Eastern Dance by Stavros Stavrou Karayanni. Another serious book that cares deeply about the dance, this Greek writer (and English professor) considers issues of culture, tradition, Imperialism and belly dance.
Historical Focus:
"A Trade like Any Other": Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt by Karen Van Nieuwkerk. A look at the ethnic history of professional performers in Egypt.

I personally love Edward Said's essay "Farewell to Tahia" Carioca, the famous Egyptian dancer Said fantasized about during his youth. (reprinted in Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper). A very different Egypt emerges in this essay that also captures how belly dancers have become unique cultural icons for all levels of society.
Looking for Little Egypt by Donna Carlton. A worthwhile, easy read with many pictures and tidbits about the first "belly dancer" of fame in the United States.

Technique Focus:
There are many great DVDs on the market; in the book department however, I recommend a classic that is half memoir and half technique: Grandmother's Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing Rosina-Fawzia B. Al-Rawi.

Visual Art Focus:
Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870-1930, edited by Holly Edwards. This book captures beautifully the visual artistry of the American Orientalists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Written as a catalog for an art exhibition, this book has prints interspersed with valuable articles.

Again, this list is just a sampling of my favorites; there are many more on the market. The next reading update will be focused on recent articles.